We’ve tested a lot of products in the last 12 months, and if you’re wondering what the best ones were – you’re in luck. The 20th annual Pocket-lint Awards, sponsored by new EE, were held on 9 November 2023, to celebrate the best devices and products of the year across 21 hotly contested categories – from cars and cameras, to speakers and smartphones.
The headphones category was hugely competitive this year, with some incredible new launches coming up against old favourites. All six of the shortlisted products were scored by our team of judges to decide the winner – but which one came out on top?
Headphones of the Year: Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra surprise absolutely no one by being a superb pair of headphones, particularly for anyone travelling and commuting. The judges praised their market-leading noise cancellation and confident, detail-oriented performance that makes the most of whatever music you throw at them.
A new Immersive Mode was deemed to be one of the most convincing spatial audio presentations yet, and while pricey, the judges decided that what they offered was well worth the investment. These headphones will happily be your travel companion for years.
Highly commended: Sony WH-1000XM5
The Sony WH-1000XM5 remain one of the best pairs of overears you can buy and aren’t far from our lips when asked for a recommendation for noise-cancelling headphones.
The refined design that Sony brought to the range last year joins fantastic noise cancellation and a sound performance that just works – with all music you might throw its way. There’s a reason these are best sellers, and they continue to hold their own against new releases, too. Even a year on since their release, the judges felt these previous award winners were well worthy of the highly commended nod.
Best of the restBeats Studio Pro
The Beats Studio Pro are the long-anticipated successor to the Beats Studio, released six years ago, and replace them as the flagship headphones of the Beats headphones line.
With a striking over-ear design, they’re instantly recognisable as Beats, but their sound is perhaps less so – with a more grown-up neutral presentation prioritising balance and vocal clarity over bass thump. It’s still there; it’s just a touch more refined.
There’s also high-bitrate wired connectivity – with USB-C and 3.5mm on offer – plus easy multi-point pairing whether you use an Android phone or an iPhone for universal appeal.
B&W Px7 S2e
The B&W Px7 S2e was an updated version of one of our favourite pairs of headphones last year, the Px7 S2, but with some clever software to make them sound better than ever.
Packing an extensively upgraded DSP and re-tuned acoustic platform, based on learnings from the much pricier Px8, these headphones serve up a more refined, even more detailed performance – not to mention look gorgeous while they do it.
We love flagship overears as much as the next music fan, but Sennheiser’s Accentum proves you don’t need to spend the best part of $400 on a pair of headphones to get a great sound.
Costing well under $200, they’re comfortable and sound excellent but still look almost identical to the more expensive Momentum 4 Wireless, especially to the untrained eye. It’s a seriously impressive bundle.
Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2
While the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 won’t win awards for their noise cancellation, it serves as a nice-to-have next to the blow-you-away sound. They’re an audiophile’s dream.
Add that to the long battery life, the ability to listen to Hi-Res codecs, and a really comfortable, premium build; the second generation Aonic 50 is a brilliant choice.
How the EE Pocket-lint Awards judging works
The winner for the Best Headphones category was decided by the Pocket-lint team, along with a panel of expert judges from publications across the industry. Following a vigorous scoring process, the Best Headphones winner for 2023 was announced at an in-person event on 9 November 2023, along with the winners from the other 20 categories.